In my short lifespan, North America has never seen to me to be the place of chaos, war, assault, attack, or otherwise brutal forces. There have only been one or two events that were huge enough to count - the 9/11 attacks, the Federal building explosion in Oklahoma City in 1995, and a few other much smaller things. Those have all been in the States, not Canada.
Neither world war took place over here. The Cold War resulted in no bombings. All the hell and casualty and human sacrifice has taken place in Europe's backyard, not ours. So it's quite unusual and shocking to have something actually happen here, in this country, in this city.
Last year, it was the Boston Marathon bombing that took up all the news, and later the bus/train collision. That was the most local event of all - it happened right on the edge of Barrhaven, where I live. But that wasn't a world stage-worthy event. For the first time ever, a real terrorist attack occurred here. The sniper didn't get far thankfully - but he did infiltrate the centre block of the Parliament Buildings and he did kill a guard at the War Memorial. That's a huge issue.
It's been unusual to see all of this unfold. Last year I was watching the news about Boston being locked down entirely. Now it's actually downtown, here, that has the same circumstance.
We really got some action, didn't we?
It was a sleepy morning. I had to get up early, at 7am. I drove to the college, dropping my mother off on Woodroffe along the way. I spent the whole class trying to keep myself awake and alert. The entire time was spent listening to student presentations and a class discussion. When we were notified that we could leave, people immediately started referencing the issue about downtown, having silently seen it pop up on their laptops via social media. I hadn't noticed anything other than the unusual 27 tweets on Twitter that had suddenly wanted to pop up. I was too sleepy and tired. I went home while listening to some of the news on the radio, and napped for two hours. Barrhaven is the opposite direction of downtown. I had nothing to worry about other than my mother across the river.
By the evening, the PM was addressing the country, and CNN was even downtown, interviewing everyone. Thankfully my mother was able to get home early and safely. Everything everywhere was locked down. Except Wal-Mart. I still had to go there and work.
This is one hell of an affair, horrible and brutal and everything in between, but what's clear to me is that this isn't the end. Someone tried to run down military personnel in Quebec a few days ago. Today a man with a gun shot a guard in the morning daylight and then went and shot up the Hall of Honor in the centre block of the Parliament buildings. Both Canadian and American media (not to forget social media) is buzzing with all of this, right at this moment, and it's ten to 1 in the morning. Countries worldwide are stepping up their national security. This is perhaps only the beginning; someone else will no doubt appear somewhere else, sometime soon, with a gun or a bomb under his clothes or a firearm of some sort. This could be a whole new war on terrorism - but the scary thing is that this isn't south of the border in the States anymore, it's in our own backyard, quite literally, right at home. Who knows how safe it will be in the future to hang out downtown.
My respects and condolences go out to the fallen soldier's family. Let's hope, really hope, that this will be the only action Ottawa (or anywhere in Canada) sees. We're not immune to acts of violence like this, no, but we sure aren't used to or acclimated to something like this. No way. This may well be the beginning to a grim reality where violence isn't far from home. Let's hope it doesn't go that way.